Sen. Mike Baumgartner at his desk on the Senate floor this spring. File photo.
OLYMPIA — State Sen. Mike Baumgartner of Spokane is being discussed for the political equivalent of an upgrade, as a candidate for U.S. Senate against Democrat Maria Cantwell.
Baumgartner said Wednesday evening he's “taking a strong look at it” after being urged to get into the race by some supporters. He said he and wife Elinore will make a decision “in the next few weeks.”
It would be a big jump for Baumgartner…
…a political novice who in 2010 defeated Democratic State Sen. Chris Marr in Spokane's 6th District, in what became the most expensive state Senate race in Washington history.
A U.S. Senate race presents a contest of several whole numbers of magnitude up the political Richter Scale, of course. Between them, Baumgartner and Marr spent about $1 million on their race. That same year, the U.S. Senate candidates — primarily Patty Murray and Dino Rossi — spent $24.5 million. With inflation, that could go up. Cantwell has already raised $2.7 million, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
There are no GOP candidates who have gotten far enough into the race to be raising and reporting money.
One other factor to consider: An Eastern Washington resident hasn't been elected to the U.S. Senate since the 1920s.
“It would be a tremendous challenge, to be sure,” Baumgartner said. He plans to weigh that challenge against a belief that the country needs to change direction and get new leadership.